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I can't take it anymore!!!! (bedtime)

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
DS is 4yo and has an anxiety disorder, sensory issues, some social/emotional delays...

He has never slept well, the kind of kid that takes hours to fall asleep & wakes every 20mins all night long. He's finally waking less but bedtime still takes hours.

The problem is, he gets completely out of control & violent at bedtime.

I could maybe deal with it if he were in another room playing or jumping or singing or whatever. But he is never, ever in another room (due to his anxiety). He is in our room (family bed), and we are trying to sleep! Or at least wind down. Instead he is jumping on our heads, pulling our hair, biting, hitting, kicking, etc. Plus hours & hours of screaming. He hates bedtime, hates night, hates laying down, hates sleeping.

I just don't know what to do anymore.

I've tried all the traditional things -- strict routine, loose routine, no routine, earlier bedtime, later bedtime, no bedtime, books, bath, snack, drink, special stuffed toy, rocking him, cuddling him, foot rubs, white noise, no noise, darkness, light, ignoring him, talking to him, extra outdoor time, warmer room, cooler room, heavy blankets, light blankets, different pjs, calms forte, chamomile, chiropractor, etc. We try firm pressure, light touch, no touch, heavy work, fine motor work, meditation, social stories, guided imagery, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, distraction, a worry box, various techniques to keep nightmares at bay, rearranging all our furniture to make it feel safer...

I am so out of ideas.

He is seldom asleep before 11pm or midnight. He is chronically overtired, DH is only getting 4-6 hours of sleep (and has high sleep needs, needs more like 9-10 hours), and I have a chronic illness and the lack of sleep and DS's physical attacks are taking a huge toll on me. We are all completely miserable. He doesn't nap (hasn't in 2 years) and he requires constant non-stop interaction all day long (not to mention constant supervision because if by some random stroke of luck he has ventured off on his own for 30 seconds, he is destroying something) so DH and I are so totally spent by bedtime as it is.

And I just need to vent, too, to people who get it. When I bring it up to my friends I get some sympathetic Oh, I know, if our routine gets thrown off DD takes nearly an hour to go to sleep! or something. They just don't get it. No one seems to get what it's like to pour every ounce of myself into helping him every single night to no avail, to be doing "all the right things" without effect, to be laying there in extreme pain & utter exhaustion while he screams and kicks me, to be witnessing that level of fear and anxiety and being so completely helpless.

I can't take it anymore. mecry.gif
post #2 of 23

I would


1) See a psychiatrist and discuss  diagnosis and medication



2) Get him his own room and bed.



3) Institutes strict protocols around unacceptable behaviors in consultation with psychiatrist and psychologists.  He simply should not allowed to hit you etc without being put into time out in a safe place.



I am speaking as mother of a child with serious mentall illness.  You can;t allow pour child to rules your daily  life like that.


Anyone who is sleep deprived will behave violently. There many medication that can help you child to fall asleep in his own bed and his own room. He will start associate his room with sleep. The more he sleeps, the better behaved he will be  during the day.


 Sometime the right thing is psychiatric intervention and medications. Meds gave my son his life back. Suddenly, the raving crazy violent antisocial child changed, and with help of therapeutic school, medications  and therapy he became who he is today.

post #3 of 23

Oh man, crunchy, I can definitely relate and I am sending you big hugs. 


Our DS is almost 4 and, though we don't have the same level of nighttime violence, our bedtime takes 1.5-4 hours and, like you, I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of to make it easier. Once asleep our DS does ok for 3-4 hour stretches, but he hates sleep, hates feeling like he is missing something, will do anything to keep himself up, etc.  Our little one is also either on me or destroying something.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I go to someone's house and they have said "there's nothing he can destroy" and I laugh then he destroys the family heirloom or ming vase or something (ok, I'm exaggerating, but he has totally broken things of value at people's houses). 


I'm like your hubby that I need 9-10 hours to really feel good and its been 4 years since I've slept more than 4 hours at a time.


Here is my annoying/most likely won't work, suggestion: drastic diet changes.  Its is the only thing that matters in our case.  If our DS gets dairy, all bets are off. 


But I've come to the conclusion that nothing will really help and that its something we have to get through until he's older and more able to either be on his own or wants to sleep. 


We haven't done this, but I've thought about it.  Can you afford to hire a nighttime nurse or something?  I know that's a fairly crappy suggestion,but its all I can think of.  Do you have family who could help?  If nothing else, could you and your husband take turns with him in bed and the other go into a quiet room to get a good nights sleep?  We've done this a few times and it has saved our lives.


But other than annoying suggestions ;) I really hope you find a way to make this at least a little better.  Things will improve! 

post #4 of 23

I'm sorry you are going through this!  I have no advice, but lots and lots of empathy for you situation.  hug2.gif

post #5 of 23

I agree with the poster who recommended medication.


I know you probably don't want to "dope" your child, but when a person has tried literally everything else, the only thing left to do is medication.


You have my sympathy.

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys.

I am incredibly reluctant on the medication front, because he is so young, and because I've been on so many medications myself that I know how side effects etc. can be. I really worry about how it would affect him developmentally. I guess I'm just not there yet... I am considering melatonin, that's the last non-prescription/milder thing I've yet to try, and will probably try that next if nothing else works.

He is on a gluten-free diet. We've tried GF/DF/SF in the past and gluten is the only thing that may possibly make a difference -- I'm not even sure but we just stick to the GF diet since I need to be on it anyway.

We have not seen a psychiatrist. He does see a therapist regularly, and he's had a few developmental assessments. In fact we just got back the results of his eval with the neurodevelopmental pedi and honestly, I'm furious. There are so many blatant errors in the report (it even says he sleeps well!!! WHAT?!?!?!), and it's clear that she really didn't understand what was going on with DS or hear what I was trying to communicate. And even if she did understand there isn't much hope, she said she's only run across one other kid similar to him and she wasn't able to help him & his family. Great. greensad.gif The eval didn't even address his sensory issues, sleep, etc. and just told us things we already knew, or things that were completely inaccurate. The only consolation is that it didn't cost us anything (I hope... at this point I wouldn't be surprised to see a $4K bill in the mail along with "insurance denied"!!)

We do not have money, we are a mess financially and falling further behind each day, and we do not have family support. All our friends have very young kids so aren't available to help at night. If we can get on state insurance (we can't even apply for another month or two) then we might be able to try other therapies/specialists/etc. but right now we can't because we can't afford the copays.

OK so today he & I set up a space in his playroom for him to sleep. He seems totally willing to try sleeping there tonight, but I know from experience that everything changes the minute the sun goes down. I'm not holding out much hope, but you never know. I'd be thrilled on many levels if he'd play in his room and go to sleep whenever he's ready. I'm not going to force it though, because his anxiety is already so high and I am not willing to make it even worse by making him sleep alone before he's ready. So, fingers crossed! I'm just so tired and emotionally spent. I wrote this last night after walking out of the bedroom to leave DH to deal with him... so I'm sorry if it comes across more intense or worse than it really is. Usually once you hit rock bottom, things get better for a bit, right???
post #7 of 23

Just a few things to think about...

I would try Magnesium before melatonin. magnesium can be used all the time...not so with melatonin.

One other thing to think about is screen time before bed.

Also getting outside and walk/play. Getting outside can get some engry out and help with sleep.


Other then that is meds. I know that is a hard road.hug2.gif You can make it.

post #8 of 23

Hey, if you're reluctant to try meds, try homeopathy!!   A good homeopath can prescribe for anxiety, sleeplessness and aggression when anxious.  As just a layperson I can think of quite a few remedies that would be useful.  Since money is a big concern if you stay at a low potency (30c) you can try to self prescribe by researching through books and on line information.  For any book suggestions please ask and I'd be happy to share my favorites.  However, a good homeopath will cost about a hundred for an hour's time.  It may be worth it for a good night's sleep!


I would also echo the poster above who suggested magnesium.  It is a miracle nutrient!  It is a muscle relaxant, a sleep enhancer, a mood leveler.....and cleans out constipation!  It is OFTEN deficient in children with special needs and without enough magnesium in the diet we can often be irritable, tense and unable to sleep. 


Hope you find the answers that you need.

post #9 of 23

Kick your DH out, have him sleep on the sofa, in the guest room, anywhere where he can actually sleep. For his health. He'll love you for it. ONE of you needs to be functional during the day. You do not stand a chance anyway at this point (since I assume that your DH has an even harder time than you to get him to fall asleep). I assume you are a SAHM and your DH is out working, but that way he can at least give you a break in the evening and you can return to the nighttime fight refreshed (Saturday nights are yours, too). Family life and couple time is for another life, this is about survival.


DS1 had a bad phase like this when he was two (with all the violence you describe), though he would usually fall asleep after about two hours. The one thing that would work was confinement - I just restrained him in my arms, his back to my stomach and his head no further up than my chest so he could not headbutt me and he screamed his lungs out for what seemed like ages but I am sure was only like two minutes, then went out like a light. Maybe  yet another idea, couldn't find it in your (impressive. Dear me!) list. At the time, I had to get up at 5 to catch my train to work and was so utterly exhausted after a while that I went down with norovirus for two weeks. After that, I cut my hours, got up at 6 and could spend ten minutes with him when he woke up in the mornings, and that worked miracles. (This is not meant to be another useless suggestion, because it does not sound like lack of mama attention is an issue for you, just our story!)


I agree with all posters who say it is time to think about medication. And until you have a consultation, I'd start (if you haven't already) with fish oil, magnesium citrate and zinc supplements.


DS1's sleep problems, together with a lot of behavioral issues, resurfaced after DD was born. At that point, he was too strong for me to restrain, but the supplements helped. We had an eval for autism which was exactly as useful as yours appears to have been, right down to the misinformation (and then they were unable to send us the report for almost a year, and finally managed to send it with seasons' greetings, shortly before Christmas (our first appointment had been in January, our last in March), recommending coming back for another eval in fall. the fall that was over.

post #10 of 23

Not all psychiatrists are out to somebody kids. Sleep deprivation has side effect as well.


I understand you reluctance about medications. I have been there, and as such, I think it is worthy path to see a psychiatrists. Psychologists are good for some things, but not for others.


You have nothing to loose by seeing a specialist. Also, psychiatry is an MD. His or her service are more likely to be covered. Find one in your network!

post #11 of 23

No advice, but you definitely have my sympathy.  It's so hard to cope with resistance at that time of day, worse than any other, when you are at your wits' end and not feeling strong enough to deal with it.


Definitely consider all your options, something unexpected may make all the difference in the world for you both.

post #12 of 23

Getting out of cell range & getting an EMF buffer helped us most.


I used an herbal/melatonin liquid sometimes that helped a bit.




The whole sleep thing is crazy making!

post #13 of 23

crunchy_mommy ever since I started on this board I recall that our lives were parallel in a lot of ways. (I have rheumatoid arthritis and DD was a high needs baby and turned into a special needs child with SPD) I haven't been on here in a while due to just dealing with my health and life but after I saw your post I had to reply.  I really do understand!  I hoped that DD would out grow some of the difficult behaviors but that isn't happening and I see you're having difficulty as well.  I've tried many of the same things you have and they didn't work for us either.  However, I understand your reluctance to use medication, we feel the same way. This is a rough road! hug2.gif We are strong people!  We made it this far and we'll find a way to make it work in the future! I can't offer you any other new advice but if you would like to unload on someone who can truly sympathize please PM me.  

post #14 of 23

The other thing to consider is the future. A physically abusive 1-2-3-4 years old is one thing. A physically abusive 10-12-14 can inflict some real damage.


There is type of therapy that concentrates on "now" CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There might me a therapeutic preschool in your area.

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the support & for understanding!

The last 2 nights I've tried the magnesium (with calcium and zinc). I am hesitant to say that it works, because often things seem like they're working for a few days and then disaster strikes... so it's a bit too soon to tell... but I will say the last 2 nights he has gone to bed WAY more easily!! He fought bedtime but in a normal way, not in that anxious/terrified/lashing out kind of way. I do think it's somehow helping his body to calm down enough to try sleeping. He also told me he felt like he slept better. So this is great and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will continue to help!! I don't know why I didn't think of trying this, I often take cal/mag/zinc to help with my own sleep issues like teeth clenching/grinding. So thank you for that suggestion, and I will keep the other ideas in mind should we need them.

On that note, does anyone have a brand of magnesium etc. that you'd recommend? Right now I'm crushing up a small dose of my own giant pills, which is a pain and not particularly palatable to DS. I'd love something chewable (or liquid) but everything I see seems to have D3 in it and I am not giving him vitamin D so close to bedtime, it keeps me up so I'd imagine it would do the same to him!
post #16 of 23

I would recommend a transdermal mag, like Derma Mag or similar.

post #17 of 23
I found this today. Don't know if it'll help, but might be worth a try to improve sleeping.

post #18 of 23

We use magnesium diasporal by protina. I am afraid it may not be available in the US. THe important thing I understand is to make sure it's magnesium citrate because of the bioavalability.

DS1 likes the fizzy drinks, but you can always sprinkle it in applesauce or yoghurt.

post #19 of 23

I open up capsules and put the powder in applesauce.  When DS was very young, I'd also give him a spoon full of molasses twice a day, with his meals.  It is VERY high in naturally occurring magnesium.  The plus is that it tastes great and he never fought taking it.  Be careful when also supplementing with calcium in addition to magnesium.  The ratio is usually off.  We need much more magnesium in supplement form then calcium because often people don't eat enough magnesium rich foods in their diet but get plenty of cheese and milk.  I would look for a straight up magnesium supplement without other minerals.


People often don't think of nutritional interventions but usually they are the easiest safest and needed by the body.  I would also seriously consider trying an elimination diet to determine if any foods are causing emotional disregulation and sensory issues.  This can be a sign of food intolerance.  GF/CF has done a world of good for our son who used to have angry tantrums (he has mild PDD-NOS) and the diet has completely taken off the table any thought of anxiety meds.

post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
He is already GF and was vegan for most of his life so I guess we've tried GF/CF by default. I think GF makes a difference but CF does not for him.

DS actually does eat quite a lot of magnesium-rich foods (probably as much as he eats calcium-rich foods). He is a really great eater. I forgot about molasses. Will have to get some.

The magnesium supplements mentioned don't seem to be available here. Well one is but is unaffordable, the other doesn't seem to be sold. The only chewable magnesium I've found is in antacid-type products like Tums. I can't even find capsules, just solid pills. I guess the ones we're using work well enough, it's just a pain to crush them each day (and while DS is inevitably demanding attention!)

Night 3, and once again he fell asleep way easier (and even a bit more quickly!) Whether it's the magnesium or just coincidence, IDK, but I'll definitely enjoy it while it lasts!
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